Skip to content
Transcript of Stan Van Gundy's introductory news conference with Orlando Magic
"We started this offseason in the process of looking for a head coach. We targeted two guys, and we actually hired them both in a six-day period of time. I just want to thank all you guys for being here as I introduce the new head coach of the Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy."
Stan Van Gundy:
"Thank you. I'm excited to be here. I want to thank the DeVos family for placing their confidence in me, thank Bob (Vander Weide) and Alex (Martins) and Otis. I couldn't be more excited to be here. We have been up, my wife and I, for about 36 hours straight so if I lose my train of thought here and have to pause, bear with me a little bit. But from a professional standpoint, this is just a tremendous opportunity to come to a franchise here in Orlando that has a great young core, starting with a 21 year-old all-star, Dwight Howard, and several other very good, young players. Salary-cap flexibility, and beyond the flexibility money-wise, you know it's a very attractive place for free agents to come. Not a lot of players I know out there are looking to freeze their butt off somewhere; I mean coming to the sunshine here in Orlando is pretty attractive. I know it was to me. And the ownership group is committed to winning and committed to having a franchise that the community can be proud of, and then a history over the last couple years of very good front-office decisions that have given the franchise that flexibility. So, as a coach you look at it as a chance to really succeed here, and on a personal level, a chance to live in Central Florida in great communities here. My wife's Mom is right up the road in Lake Mary; this is just the perfect fit for us professionally and personally, and I couldn't be more excited to be here."
On what happened yesterday (Wednesday) with the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic:
"Yesterday was certainly one of the more interesting days of my life. It was long and tiring and a lot of people put in a lot of effort to make this happen today. Certainly, everyone here with the Magic and then some people who, you know, helped me out also. My wife, for one, made a lot of time and effort yesterday to make this happen."
On his interest level with the Sacramento job:
"Well, you know I am not going to go into that too much because I think the focus here should be on the opportunity here and the great privilege I have to coach the Orlando Magic, but obviously, I flew to Sacramento with the intention of checking out the opportunity there, and it was one that I was very interested in."
On Pat Riley asking for compensation for him and whether it was fair:
"Well, it didn't surprise me at all, and I am not going to get into the fairness issue. I'll just say that I am very grateful to Pat. First of all, in over 12 years there, he nurtured my NBA coaching career, and I really learned what I know about the NBA from him. And then he advanced me and gave me a chance and opportunity as a head coach, and after some troublesome moments yesterday (Wednesday, June 6), you know he allowed me to take this opportunity so I am excited and grateful to him."
On possibly being the Orlando Magic's second choice for coach:
"It doesn't concern me. I am honored to be sitting here, and I can't wait to go to work with the players they have here. That's really of no consequence at all. And I think any time that you are in sports and are looking backward, you got it wrong. I mean it is time to be going forward on to the opportunities that we have as a franchise and this coming season, and I think people are going to like what they see and that's what is important."
On how much he saw the Magic last year and his style of play:
"Well, I saw them play quite a bit last year, and to be honest ,one of the things I liked about taking the job is that I think there is a good foundation there, particularly at the defensive end of the floor, and we will certainly continue that defensive excellence, because I think if you just look at the NBA Finals right now and see who's playing, you've got to be strong at that end. And what that also allows us to do is focus on the offensive end and making some adjustments there. I think, certainly when you look at the team the Magic have with the youth and athleticism, we've got to utilize both the athleticism and energy of the young players, and I think that means playing in a more up-tempo, attacking style. And I think sometimes that gets presented as just running fast breaks, but it's more than that. It means that we should always be on the attack, we should be getting to our options quicker, and I think you should see that. It should be a style of play that is fun for players to play and exciting for the fans to watch. But the most exciting thing to watch is when you are winning, and I don't think we want to forget that. There are some teams out there, and I'm not going to name names, that scored a lot of points this year and it wasn't too exciting because they weren't winning games, so the number one thing, we want to win."
On his coaching philosophy:
"Well, my basic philosophy is, number one, you've got to be strong defensively, and then at the offensive end of the floor, I think there are two main things before you get into how fast you are going to play or anything else determining what you are going to do. Number one is that you've got to fit the system to the talent that you have and not the other way around. I think that is very important in offensive basketball, and I think a lot of that goes to, you have to find ways to get your best offensive players on the floor, and sometimes that means you've got to play guys in different positions and various things. But if you can get your best offensive players out there and fit the system to their talents, whether that is running up and down the floor, whether that's throwing the ball to Dwight in the post, you know whether that's getting more 3-point shooting on the floor, whatever it is, that's your job as coach to make it all work."
On why he chose the Magic:
"Well, I think I went through those reasons. I think you look at, you know, what's here and the advantages here with a great young core of players and with salary-cap flexibility. And I think more, when you look at the salary-cap flexibility, to have that you've got to know that the front office is making some good decisions to put you in that position, and then, like I said, it is an attractive place. I mean it is one thing to have some money, but you've got to have money and a place that somebody might actually want to come and play, so I think you are in a great place here. And then you've got an ownership group I think is really committed to success, and like I said, history here in the last couple of years under Otis, of some great front-office decisions, with (Darko) Milicic and (Carlos) Arroyo coming here, Steve Francis going to New York and Trevor Ariza coming here. I would go through more and more, but when you see those things, you know things are on the right track and you are going to have a chance at success."
On the transition from Miami to Orlando:
"We spend a lot of time up here. My wife's mother is up here, we're up all the time. We were just up here in April, my son had a basketball tournament up here, my daughter's up here for swim meets, so we're here. The lifestyles are very, very similar. This is just an easy and great transition for us, it's really the perfect situation both professionally and personally."
On what it's been like to be on the sidelines and not coaching:
"Well, I'll tell you, I've been out about a year-and-a-half, and I would say, for the first year, I just sort of watched games and enjoyed it, but I really enjoyed the time off. It was the first time in 25 years for me that I'd been away from it, and I got a chance to recharge and get reacquainted with my family and do a lot of things. But in the last six months, really, you know, since the turn of the year, probably after the holidays, I started wanting to get back in it more and more and more. And as I got the first couple opportunities to interview this year, it really crystallized for me that I wanted to coach. But I wasn't going to be desperate, you know. We wanted the right situation, and we have certainly found it here. The only person happier in this room than I am is my wife for me to be sitting here, so it's fantastic."
On waiting the past four or five days:
"It doesn't really seem like it was waiting because there was so much going on. Sort of laying on the bed waiting would've been a little easier. There was a lot going on. I guess the first reaction obviously was surprise. You know, when Otis called over the weekend, a little bit shocked. And then from there, just so many ups and downs on whether I thought it was going to work out or not work out. It seemed to be changing almost hourly, and we were truly on an emotional roller coaster for quite a while."
On why he got antsy to coach again and if there will be a rivalry with the Heat:
"You know, I think I've coached my entire life and been around it even longer. My dad coached 41 years, I mean until the last year-and-a-half I was in a gym pretty much daily from the time I was a child. So, I think it was natural that at some point I was going to want to get back into it. It just started to increase over time. Once I started thinking about it and your mind gets rolling and thinking about basketball, then it was like a snowball rolling down hill, I just wanted to get back at it. The rivalry? I hope it will become a great one. You guys all know where rivalries come from is in the playoffs, and when you can get in there and start advancing and things like that, that's where the rivalry really builds up. There's obviously going to be a rivalry; we're the only two teams in the state here and the rivalry is there. And I think anything that adds intensity and raises the enthusiasm and raises the stakes is great for everybody. It's great for players. It's great for any of us in basketball. And it's really great for the fans when you get a rivalry like that where the intensity rises. So, I'll just say hopefully -- and I think they'd say the same thing in Miami -- hopefully it becomes a very intense rivalry."
On the past six days:
Otis Smith: "Well, the biggest thing for us was to get Stan here. That was the biggest thing, but he had several other suitors. But the fact of the matter is we interviewed and hired two guys, and they were one and two on our list, in no particular order. And I do think we have the best basketball coach for our young basketball team. I really do believe that. So for us, it was a matter of going out and doing that. So for the last few days it's been, you know, trying to track him (Van Gundy) down at Kinko's, and, at the same time, just making sure that we're on the same page. So, for me, I think we did a wonderful job of doing that. You know, trying to put ourselves in a position to win, that's what it's all about. Stan talked about it earlier, I can't say that enough. It's all about winning and putting yourself in a position to do that, and I think we did."
On how much of a roller coaster this week was for him:
Van Gundy: "Well you know, I was both a participant and an observer. Sometimes you could do some things, and a lot of the times you felt like it was out of your hands. I personally though, as much of a roller coaster as it was, I was in a great situation because I had two great opportunities at least to talk to people. I don't know where the other one would've gone, but you know, it was a great opportunity, so I felt good about that. But this is where we wanted to be and especially as we got into yesterday, yesterday was really the first time I started to really think there was a good possibility. Before then, it was sort of an outside hope. Yesterday it looked like a good possibility, and yesterday the roller coaster was unbelievable. From hour to hour, I mean my wife and I were high-fiving and celebrating, and then we were throwing our hands in the air, and then we were back to high-fiving and celebrating. So, there's some people where we were that probably thought we were a little strange. But we made it through the day."
On the team and if Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic can play together:
"Well look, I think you're sitting in a great situation with that. I remember saying to Otis in the interview, 'You've got two great assets there, you've got two young big guys in a league where everybody else is searching for one.' However that goes, you've got two great assets there. Can they play together? Yeah. Actually, I think as a coach that's your responsibility. You've got to take your best players and you've got to figure out a way to make it work. And you can't play the same with every group of players. I mean, neither one of them is going to step out to the 3-point line, although Darko's got pretty good range. And so you're going to play a little differently than maybe some other teams will with their four and five. But there's certainly no reason that they couldn't play together."
On what his job was as a consultant with the Heat:
"Micky Arison was asking that question several times as he signed the check to me over the last year-and-a-half. 'What exactly is he doing?' No, really it was, the Heat organization, Pat in particular, were great to me. I needed to get some time away, and I was able to do it. Basically what I did was watch a lot of games and provide my ideas on their team, on the teams they were playing. But for me, it was great because even though I was away from the coaching, I watched a lot of NBA basketball. I was watching 10 or 12 games a week and really getting a chance to watch the league and stay abreast to what was going on and take notes and things like that. It's not like I've been out in the hinterlands somewhere and don't have any idea who Dwight Howard is or anything."
On what makes Van Gundy a better coach than the previous coach:
Otis Smith: "NBA experience. The learning curve of this game. Being around a very good coach, a great coach in Pat Riley. Knowing the players and the assets that we have. Knowing the players and assets of the league. Just what he described to Tim as far as how the team is going to play as far as adjusting the game to the players that are on the floor. I can go on and on and on. We sat down with Stan, Dave (Twardzik) and I, prior to sitting down with Billy (Donovan). And that was, you know Dave and I were sitting there like (sigh). I mean, that was hard because we really liked Stan and everything Stan brought to the table, we really did. And, talking to Stan about this whole thing, coming and being the coach of the team, really wasn't that hard of a sell, to be honest it wasn't a hard sell at all. For us it was a good thing. We felt a little bit more comfortable trying to figure out the space that you have to fill between the learning curve of the previous coach."
On when he left the Heat and how he can calm the fears of Magic fans:
Van Gundy: "I'll say this, I was not forced out. I did step away, and I would say to the Magic fans I stepped away after 24-and-a-half years of coaching and after another 24-and-a-half years, I might step away again."
On what made him step away from the game two years ago and why he doesn't think it will happen again any time soon:
"I don't think that I ever thought I was done with coaching. I know my wife never thought I was done with coaching. You get to a point where
I have never really taken time off with my kids or anything else. What happened to me is that it built up and there is just so much going on I am missing and I wanted some time with them. I took that time and established better relationships in the whole thing, and I am ready to get back at it."
On why he made that change in the middle of the season:
"That I am really not going to get into. There were a lot of talks there with Pat (Riley) on what needed to go on and what was best for the organization and me at the time and everything else. I will say this I think it worked out for everybody, and I think I am where I want to be right now and excited about it. Whenever you are asked, how do you calm people's fears or anything else, I don't know how to answer that. Just watch and give it time, and those things will take care of itself. When this whole process started here, and obviously I was following it because I wanted to get the job
I am reading everything in the paper and I remember when the process started and Otis said, and I am not going to get the exact quote but certainly the idea. The first words I read from Otis is, 'it's not about winning the press conference, it's about winning games.' And what that implies is that you have to have a little more vision. It is not about today it's about next season. I just want people to watch our team. It is going to be an exciting team to watch and they're going to enjoy it. But you know what, they are not going to sit here and take my word for it. They'll watch and they'll learn as they go and I am confident in that. I will do a better job of putting that out on the floor than I will of convincing anybody of that, and that is fine. That is fine, and I would rather go out and prove it."
On if he ever felt that the Magic organization was cursed with bad luck:
Otis Smith: "Not at all. For me, the roller coaster started about how long ago did you offer me this job? And I kind of anticipate the roller coaster will continue to go pretty much my whole career. I am excited about our opportunity; I am excited about the opportunity to be sitting in front of you as a young man, myself, talking about a franchise that has been what you call a roller coaster. I think we had a couple days in which it didn't go the way we anticipated or planned, but we are back on track. And I will say the same thing to you today that I said last week the goal at the end of it is to win a championship, and anything else is a failure. We are at the same place we let off last week. The goal is to win an NBA championship. You want to give yourself the best opportunity to do that, and with that said, you are going to have some rocky roads, and you are going to have some good times. But you have to give yourself an opportunity to do that. We have the assets in place -- we have a young 21-year-old in Dwight Howard, we have cap flexibility, we have Jameer Nelson, we have Darko Milicic but guess what? We had that last week, too. So that really didn't change. So we are still, in my estimation, in the same place we were last week, but in a better place because we have somebody with NBA experience. -- feel good about where we are."
On what it says about him as a coach because he was so highly sought after this offseason:
Van Gundy: "I don't know what it says. I am very flattered by it to be honest. There are a lot of good coaches in this league, and there are a lot of good coaches out there. I am just very privileged to have this opportunity and have the interest of other people. And now the job is to get out there and prove that you are worth it, and I am even more excited about getting to work on that than I am about sitting here talking to you guys, if you can believe that."
On the similarities and differences between Stan and brother/former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy:
"I think our basketball philosophies are somewhat similar, definitely on the defensive end. Offensively, if you watch our teams, my teams have been different than his. Personality-wise, at least in terms of coaching, I would say he is a lot more reserved, and I wear my emotions on my sleeves maybe a little bit more. He is a great, great coach with 10 years of NBA head-coaching experience, and as long as he is out of it and not coaching his own team, he is going to get a lot of phone calls, questions and things like that. We talk almost daily about the game, argue about most things, basketball and non-basketball things. It is great in the family. My dad has coached a long time, so there aren't too many conversations in my family that havn't centered around basketball."
On if he feels he has something to prove because he is seen as being a 'Plan B':
"No, again because I think it goes back to Otis' premise to begin with that it is not about the press conference, it is about winning games. I sort of laugh about it some times, but every time I have gotten a job, I have been following somebody who has either been a big name in some places or done something great. That is the way it has been. I haven't necessarily ever been the big splash coming in on day one, and that is fine, because ultimately, it is not what matters. Ultimately what matters is what you see out on the floor this coming season. I have great confidence that, with the talent that is here, we can put a great product on the floor and I think you guys are going to enjoy watching it."